Broadcast engineers showcase top ceremonies with mobile support

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
  • I.G. Brown Training and Education Center
The I.G. Brown Training and Education Center showcased its strength and experience in mobile broadcast support this spring during three highly visible and prominent Air Force ceremonies.

The TEC's television crews were tasked with figuring out how to direct, broadcast and record the Air National Guard Order of the Sword and Air Force Order of the Sword ceremonies in Alabama as well as the Director of the Air National Guard's assumption of command ceremony in Maryland - events that required site surveys, equipment transport, and tailored audio/visual systems, scripts, slides and camerawork.

"They came out really nice when it was all done," said David Barlow with the TEC's Media and Engagement Division. "They were really happy."

Barlow served as the director, with one camera operator, Tech. Sgt. Erik Gallion, and two static cameras for the assumption of command.  He said that it was particularly good in networking for the TEC's personnel and the Air National Guard Readiness Center's personnel, since they often work together on videos and broadcasts - the TEC operates and manages the Air National Guard's satellite broadcast studios on campus. Thousands watched Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice assume command. "We will replay it on the Warrior Network for the drill weekends and give the general that exposure to traditional Guard members," said Barlow.

Barlow and Walter "Gerry" Barnes, Warrior Network director and engineer, Tech. Sgt. Chalanda Roberts, broadcaster, and Tech. Sgt. Timothy Kinnan, broadcaster, and local camera operators from the Air University TV teamed together for the orders of the sword.

Using local broadcast Airmen saved on travel costs, said Barlow. He noted that they saved thousands more in potential contractor costs for the Air Force - they supported the April 17 event honoring Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen Stanley E. Clarke III in Montgomery and then supported the event honoring Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III at the same place, days after.

One opportunity for creativity was in designing the introduction videos for both honorees. "They are dramatic videos we created in our studio with the help of Tech. Sgt. James Madnick, an honor guard expert here, which played through and ended with a shot to black, the stage lights coming on, and a dramatic appearance of the ceremonial honor guard," Barlow explained. They also worked with stage designers and decorators to find the proper visuals, shots and image magnification for their screens that would best identify with the Order of the Sword's traditions and emotions.

To help the military with these events, the TEC manages a Flypack video system - a portable broadcast studio - that provides HD-TV production at any location. "We take it on the road, in a trailer, to support," said Barnes. A smaller system is hand-carried as extra luggage for lesser events. Satellite hookups to the Warrior Network and the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System connect leaders, conferences and ceremonies with National Guard bases and those online.

They're on the road about six times a year. It saves the government a tremendous amount of money in conferee travel as well as in equipment rental from local vendors as well as from hiring operators, said Barnes. The TEC and Air National Guard officials considered the value in owning a system more than a decade ago. They upgraded to the HD system two years ago.

Incorporating broadcast support presents many challenges. The TEC TV crew get involved in the early stages of large events to clarify expectations as well as to avoid technical hiccups, specifically through site visits, preferably months beforehand. Barnes said that they normally return two days before an event to setup, attend practices and load presentations, among countless other tasks. "The day before an event is usually a long day," he said.

Barnes's crew works with conference planners at the National Guard Bureau who are familiar with their processes and requirements. They welcome opportunities with others who may need support.